Crops

Tom Felger unloaded corn from his combine into grain wagons.

 

Most farmers that I talked to agreed that their corn and soybean crops turned out good this year. However, small grains and new seedings were a disappointment. “Other than in a few places that missed rain in late June and early July, farmers with good weed control and fertilization were rewarded with pretty good crops,” said Roger Peterson, dealer - Gold Country Seeds.

“Everything went quite well,” said Tom Felger who farms with his son Matt north of Mora. He added that the early warm spring got corn and soybeans off to a good start. Their crops had sufficient rainfall.

He said that the crops were finishing nicely with good dry down.  However, they were not consistent from field to field. They still had about 20 % of their corn yet to harvest last weekend. “All in all, it is turning out to be a successful year,” he added.

Chad Barnick who farms with his father, Loren, and brother, Aaron, near Coin in southern Kanabec County was very upbeat about this year’s cropping season. He added that their planting was perfect and the earliest since 2016. Their weed control was excellent. Harvest went well and they would have been done in October, but they put in a new dryer system so they finished the first week of November. They found that variety selection was crucial with their soybean yields.

David and Jody Karas raise 300 acres of corn, 300 acres of soybeans and 170 acres of alfalfa and grass on their land and rented land east of Pine City. They feed 220 dairy steers. Jody said that their crops did really well. Spring planting went well with drier conditions than in previous years.

She said that it was a nice warm summer. The high number of growing degree days really helped. “It was dry for three weeks in June which slowed crop growth. However, the heat and timely rains made up for it. Last year we had much too much rain,” she added.

 POOR YEAR FOR SMALL GRAINS

Despite it being a good year for corn and soybeans, it was not a good year for small grains. It was too dry early for them to get off to a good start. It also was not a good year to establish a hay crop. “Oats as a cover crop took all of the water and left nothing for alfalfa and forage crops to get established. When it’s dry, it is also hard to control weeds,” said Peterson.

 STORM DAMAGE

The Barnick family owns Barnick Insurance Agency in Mora where they sell crop insurance. He said that farmers from north of Mora filed damage claims from hail that occurred early in the season. He also received wind damage claims in July and hail damage claims in September.

The dry conditions in late June and early July that affected small grain crops resulted in a lot of small grain crop insurance yield and revenue loss claims. He said, “Crop insurance is so important. You hope that you have a perfect year and never have to use it. But when something goes wrong, crop insurance can help to keep you in farming for another year.”

Peterson said that there was a lot of warm weather after the corn was physiologically mature and/or froze.  That is when stalk rot set in. So, timely harvest was important to get to crops harvested before stock breakage occurred from high winds.

Karas said they had no insect or corn stalk rot problems, but had phytophthora rot in soybeans in a field where they had spread liquid manure. They did not have any wind or hail damage.

 EARLY SNOWS AFFECT HARVEST

Early snows have affected crops that are still in the fields. Soybeans have been most vulnerable to not being harvested by the time it snowed. “There are only so many days to harvest beans,” said Peterson.

The snow also kept frost from going into the ground. So, combining corn has been a challenge in fields that have gotten muddy. “With mud under the snow the combine just spins,” said Felger. “We are biding time until the ground firms up from frost.”

 The snow also has prevented some fall tillage from being done. However, Felger said that they were fortunate to get their fall tillage and fertilization done.

Karas said that they were also able to get their fall tillage done before finishing corn combining as fall tillage is so valuable. The early snowstorms did delay harvest so they had to wait for the snow to melt off of the corn before they could continue to combine.

 NOT MUCH DRYING WAS NEEDED

Felger said that no drying was needed for their soybeans. Their corn that was harvested first had a moisture level around 21%. That has dropped to 16%.

Karas added that some of their corn did not need to be dried. Their wettest corn was 17-18% and the later harvested corn was down to 14-15%.  (15.5% is ideal for storage). “Dave combines and I unload the loads and run the dryer. Our neighbor Pat helps us,” said Jody.

 HARVEST YIELDS

Corn yields that Peterson has seen ranged from 165 to 180 bushels/acre with some around 200 bu./ac. Felger said that their soybeans yielded 40-60 bu./ac and corn was very good at around 200 bu./ac on their better soils and a little less on lighter soils.

Barnick said that their soybean yields were the second best ever and corn yields were fantastic. 

Karas said that they had good crop yields this year and were able to finish their harvest on Saturday before the snowfall on Sunday. Their corn was yielding good with some fields yielding as high as 200 bu/ac. Soybeans averaged 50 bu/ac. “This year’s crop was so much better than last year,” she added.

Barnick summarized the year when he said that the yields in the area were higher than normal. 

Most of the area did well for the first time in four years. Government payments also helped. He concluded that thanks to the man upstairs for this year, now we can look forward to growing crops again next year.

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